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Harvey, Kennedy-Kenrick stay alive in PIAA playoffs

IT'S NOT TOO common that a baseball player's pregame routine matches the one Joe Harvey followed yesterday.

IT'S NOT TOO common that a baseball player's pregame routine matches the one Joe Harvey followed yesterday.

Let's hope not, anyway.

Stretch the legs. Loosen the arm. Get into proper frame of mind . . . Remove foreign object from bottom of left foot.

"At first I thought it was just a little piece of stone," Harvey said. "But it was clear. It was glass."

Kennedy-Kenrick High, which is about to vanish after 17 years, held its final graduation ceremony last Wednesday. On Saturday, Harvey and his classmates headed for Ocean City, N.J., for the time-honored Senior Week ritual. And then came Sunday night.

"I was walking around barefoot," he said. "Probably a bad mistake. My foot was hurting for a while, right at the ball, but I thought maybe it was just rough from walking on the pavement. I decided to check it out here and . . . well, I needed tweezers."

Here was the first-base dugout at Richie Ashburn Field, in South Philly. Once Harvey, a 6-2, 210-pound righthander headed for Pitt on scholarship, got to the mound, many of Delone Catholic's batters, especially those in the bottom portion of the order, discovered it's not a good idea to swing tomorrow at a fastball that's coming today.

K-K captured the PIAA Class AA first-round playoff, 2-1, as Harvey twirled a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts.

The winning run was posted in dramatic fashion, in the home seventh, as Rob Barth milked a leadoff walk, advanced to second on Alex Frederick's sacrifice and came around (following an intentional walk to leadoff man Cullen Rota) on Sal DiPrinzio's roped single to left-center.

With Harvey, who would have batted next, leading the way, the Wolverines engulfed Barth, who'd also stroked an RBI single in the fifth, then rushed over to greet DiPrinzio.

Any playoff win is great. That goes double, at least, for one that keeps your school's athletic history going for at least one more game.

"On the way up here," said Harvey, who came directly from OC in a car with catcher Ed Kelly and third baseman Matt Moloney, "we were talking about how we'd really like to go out with a state championship. But when every game you go into could be your school's last, it means even more.

"I've only been here for 2 years [as a transfer from La Salle]. It means even more to the other seniors than it does to me. And it still means a lot to me. When you think about it, this is the last thing us seniors can do as a group."

In the AA City Title game last Thursday, Harvey became just the second pitcher from K-K (or forerunner Bishop Kenrick) to notch as many as 10 strikeouts in a postseason game. The first, Jimmy Volpe, who did so May 24 in a first-round Catholic League win over Conwell-Egan, will get the ball Thursday in a quarterfinal vs. Loyalsock Township (details TBA).

In this contest, for the most part, Kelly could have survived flashing only his right index finger.

"I didn't throw many off-speed pitches overall and in the sixth and seventh, and maybe the fifth, I don't think I threw any," Harvey said. "Blow people away. That's usually my motto.

"Really, I felt I was at my strongest in the seventh. I've always been that way. Maybe because the pressure's on? Or because I want to get it over? I try to throw fastballs until they hit them.

"I don't worry about how many miles an hour they are. I figure if they swing and miss, I'm doing the right thing."

As the visiting seventh concluded, Harvey strode quickly toward the dugout and gushed, "Let's get this run!" He continued with inspirational chatter as the Wolverines prepared to bat.

"I get pretty into it," he admitted. "Sometimes our team has a lot of positive energy. Sometimes we're a little down. We needed to get going there.

"This was a great team effort. We made the plays [just one error] and got the clutch hits."

In the fifth, capping a great, hang-tough at-bat that featured multiple foul balls, Moloney led off by raking a hard single toward right-center. AJ Koscelansky moved him up with a bunt. With the count at 3-1 on Barth, Kelly yelled from the dugout, "Rob, you have to love this pitch!" He did. Base hit to right for a 1-0 lead.

DC, located about 15 miles southwest of York, answered right away in the sixth. Brett Smith walked, advanced to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a groundout and made a successful mad dash for home right after Moloney, the third baseman, gloved CJ Hoddinett's grounder and fired to first baseman David Custer. Josh Hippensteel's followup single made the run earned.

Harvey, who lives in Audubon (Pa. version), plans to major in biology with designs on becoming an optometrist.

"Not sure where that interest comes from," he said, smiling. "But I figure you can work for yourself and make good money."

Yesterday, before Joe Harvey could help K-K cash in on its playoff opportunity, he had to do good work with tweezers.